After Harry's heartbreakingly honest farewell speech revealing his 'great sadness' about leaving the only life he has ever known, Michelle Davies charts the rift between the brothers and how their once unbreakable bond is slowly mending
There was a rather telling omission in the joint statement released by Buckingham Palace a week ago to dismiss the reports that William’s ‘bullying’ behaviour was the trigger for Megxit. The brusquely worded statement said he and Harry ‘care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful’ – but it noticeably stopped short of saying they care about each other. In fact, the statement made no attempt at all to pretend their relationship was even the slightest bit okay. So while talks continued between courtiers to thrash out Harry and Meghan’s next steps after they stepped down as senior royals, the rift between them seemed wider than ever.
The wife factor
However, according to latest reports, the two brothers have held secret talks in the past week to overcome their differences, realising it was ‘now or never’ with Harry’s imminent move to Canada about to put thousands of miles between them. One newspaper even claimed Kate and Meghan were involved in brokering the peace talks, a sure sign that the Fab Four are mending the fractures that forced them to separate their two courts when Harry and Meghan left Kensington Palace to move to Frogmore. ‘It has been ground-breaking in terms of saving their bond as brothers and has been totally driven by them,’ a source was quoted as saying.
Family is everything
For their extended family, it will come as a huge relief to see the brothers attempting to reconcile their differences. Their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, once remarked ‘family is the most important thing in the world’ and she would undoubtedly be aghast at the fallout between her sons.
Rumours of a rift began to surface shortly after Harry and Meghan’s wedding in April 2018 but it wasn’t until his televised interview with Tom Bradby after their trip to South Africa in September last year that Harry confirmed there were indeed issues between him and William, who at 37 is two years his senior.
‘Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it’s under … stuff happens,’ said Harry, when Bradby asked him about his relationship with William. ‘We’re certainly on different paths at the moment,’ he added. ‘As brothers, we have good days and we have bad days.’
Stoking the rift
Of course, two brothers who are different in personality and temperament not getting along is hardly an anomaly. Families fall out all the time. But there was something inexplicably sad about the breakdown of the princes’ previously close relationship after what they endured with their mother’s death.
Harry’s surprisingly unguarded interview with Bradby sparked an avalanche of stories that served to stoke the rift, including repeated claims he was upset William did not do enough to welcome Meghan into the Royal fold and had even cautioned him against marrying her. This week it was alleged they even rowed before playing in the Power Royal Charity Polo Day at Billingbear Polo Club in Berkshire in July last year – the same event at which Meghan was pictured in public for the first time with newborn Archie, alongside Kate and her three children, George, Charlotte and Louis. Apparently such was the distance between the families now that the cousins have only met on one other occasion. With Archie still in Canada with Meghan, that situation won’t have changed even if William and Harry are speaking again.
Sources close to William subsequently told The Times he felt he and Harry were ‘separate entities’ and ‘I’ve put my arm around my brother all our lives but I can’t do that any more’. So far there is no confirmation of who made the first move to heal the estrangement, but our money’s on William, because the latest comments emanating from Harry and Meghan’s camp hinted again at ‘bad blood’ within the Royal Family, with an unnamed friend of theirs quoted by People magazine as saying, ‘If relationships had been better, things would have been different.’
An uncle intervention
Their father, Prince Charles, is no doubt most relieved that his sons have found a way to navigate the frustrations they evidently had with each other. He appreciates first-hand how difficult life can be when you don’t get along with your sibling, as he and Andrew have never seen eye to eye.
To ensure it doesn’t happen again, he could do a lot worse than enlist the help of his sons’ uncle – Diana’s brother – Earl Spencer, to whom Harry is particularly close. At her funeral in 1997, the Earl’s blistering eulogy included the promise to protect William and Harry from suffering the same fate as she did when he described Diana as ‘the most hunted person of the modern age’. ‘We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair,’ he said. Given that it appeared to be them triggering each other’s anguish rather than outside forces, it would be worth keeping him on speed-dial.
Dashing Diana’s hopes
After all, his sister would have undoubtedly done her utmost to reverse the estrangement. She once remarked it was her goal for ‘my boys to have an understanding of people’s emotions, their insecurities, people’s distress, and their hopes and dreams.’ What a relief for their families that they appear to at last appreciate one other’s.
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Maria Coole is a contributing editor on Marie Claire.
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